Sara Roccabianca


Sara Roccabianca

Marvin L. VanDerPloeg Endowed Asc Prof.



As a faculty member of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Michigan State University (MSU), my goals are: (a) to perform transformative research in the field of soft tissue biomechanics; (b) to offer excellent education to both graduate and undergraduate students, through quality course offerings and student mentoring; (c) to edify the local and broader scientific communities through my effort in re-search and STEM education.

            My research focuses broadly on integrating experiments with modeling of the biomechanics of soft tissues. Biomechanics identifies a growing field of science that aims to understand the role played by mechanical stimuli (physical forces and deformations) in biological processes. First, I aim to quantify experimentally the changes – mechanical, microstructural, and chemical – that can be observed in soft tissues in response to “abnormal” mechanical stimuli, such as increased blood pressure in hypertension, or increased urine storage in type II diabetes. Henceforth, I will refer to this process as adaptive or mal-adaptive remodeling. Second, I aim to formulate mathematical models to describe and predict adaptive remodeling, my goal is to formulate and implement models that will predict how tissue characteristics change as a function of the mechanical and chemical environment. Specifically, my research focuses on two soft tissues the left ventricle and the urinary bladder.

            I was born and raised in Verona (Italy), where my family still lives. I received my B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Trento (Italy). I received my Ph.D. in Structural and Mechanical Engineering from the University of Trento in 2011. I then was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, working on cardiovascular mechanics. I joined MSU in 2014 as assistant professor and was promoted to the role of associate professor in 2020. I live in East Lansing with my husband, Andrea, and my two siberian huskies, Mowgli and Leeloo.


Averill R., Recktenwald G., Roccabianca S. Effect of assessment methods on performance in mechanics of materials. Conference Proceedings of ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, June 24-27, 2018. Salt Lake City, UT. (Winner of Best Podium presentation.
Averill R., Roccabianca S, Recktenwald G. A New Assessment Model in Mechanics of Materials. Conference Proceedings of ASEE North Central Section Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan, March 22-23, 2019. (Podium presentation. Winner of Best Paper Award)
CURE-UAB 5.0 Faculty Award. December 5, 2019.
Ph.D. in Engineering of Civil and Mechanical Structural Systems University of Trento, Via Mesiano, 77 38123 Trento –Italy–
Master of Science program in Civil Engineering University of Trento, Via Mesiano, 77 38123 Trento –Italy–
Bachelor of Science program in Civil Engineering University of Trento, Via Mesiano, 77 38123 Trento –Italy–
Tuttle T. G., Morhardt D., Poli A., Park J. M., Arruda E. M., Roccabianca, S. (2021). Investigation of Fiber-Driven Mechanical Behavior of Human and Porcine Bladder Tissue Tested Under Identical Conditions. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering,
Sinha M., Izadi A., Anthony R., Roccabianca S. (2021). Bifurcation analysis of unbending and eversion of a bilayer. International Journal of Solids and Structures, 111156.
Grobbel M.R., Lee L.C., Watts S.W., Fink G.D., Roccabianca S. (2020) Left ventricular geometry, tissue composition, and residual stress in High Fat Diet Dahl-Salt sensitive rats. Experimental Mechanics,
Chen S., Scott J., Bush T.R., Roccabianca S. (2020) Inverse finite element characterization of the human thigh soft tissue in the seated position. Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology,19(1), 305-316.
Chen S., Ní Annaidh A., Roccabianca S. (2020) A microstructurally inspired constitutive model for skin mechanics. Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology, 19(1), 275-289.
Sinha M., Izadi A., Anthony R.J., Roccabianca S. (2019) A novel approach to finding mechanical properties of nanocrystal layers. Nanoscale, (11), 7520-7526.
Grobbel M.R., Shavik S.M., Darios E., Watts S.W., Lee L.C., Roccabianca S. (2018) Contribution of left ventricular residual stress by myocytes and collagen: existence of inter-constituent mechanical interaction. Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology, 17(4), 985–999.
Roccabianca S., Bellini C., Humphrey J.D. (2014) Computational modelling suggests good, bad and ugly roles of glycosaminoglycans in arterial wall mechanics and mechanobiology. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 11(97): 20140397.
Bellini C., Ferruzzi J., Roccabianca S., Di Martino E.S., Humphrey J.D. (2014) A microstructurally motivated model of arterial wall mechanics with mechanobiological implications. Annals of Biomedical Engineering. 42(3): 488-502.
Roccabianca S., Figueroa C.A., Tellides G., Humphrey J.D. (2014) Quantification of regional differences in aortic stiffness in the aging human. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 29: 618-634.
Primary Department